A case of bifocal selection | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 06, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 06, 2019

A case of bifocal selection

The inclusions of pacers Shafiul Islam and Ebadat Hossain in Bangladesh's ODI and Test squads respectively for the upcoming tour of New Zealand as replacements for injured pacer Taskin Ahmed were simultaneous reflections of the selectors' foresight and the contrasting tendency towards nearsightedness.

It was expected that Taskin -- who lost his place in the national squad after the tour of South Africa in 2017 because of injury and poor form -- would get a recall to the national side after a Bangladesh Premier League season during which he picked 22 wickets in 12 games for Sylhet Sixers.

The 25-year-old Ebadat Hossain's inclusion in the Test team as Taskin's replacement after the latter twisted his ankle in his franchise's last BPL game is in the same vein because the uncapped Ebadat is one of the up-and-comers in Bangladesh's pace scene.  The selection showed foresight as he was not part of the well-trodden age-level setup and instead  was plucked from the High Performance squad. He also bowled with lively pace for Sylhet Sixers, which caught the eye of national head coach Steve Rhodes.

The case of Shafiul, who had a satisfactory outing in the BPL with 15 wickets from 12 games for Rangpur Riders, does not seem as straightforward.

In a career of 11 Tests, 56 ODIs and 12 T20Is dating back to 2010, Shafiul has remained the selectors' first choice whenever they have needed a replacement for an injured player. In that respect it was an expected choice but one that is becoming more puzzling with each fresh inclusion.

Shafiul played his last ODI back in 2016 and although he was included in the national team during this period the pacer from Bogura has been little more than a passenger on tour who does most of his bowling in net sessions. His perpetual fringe role in the national team and the fact that he was not in the original squad also hints that he is not expected to be a part of the squad for the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales this summer, towards which all national games now seem to be geared. 

Assuming that the team management would want an injury replacement to be able to fit in as seamlessly as possible, the likes of Abu Jayed -- who bagged 18 wickets in 13 games for Chittagong Vikings -- and Khaled Ahmed, who was named in the Test side, and even left-arm seamer Abu Hider could have been more sensible choices as they have enjoyed more faith as far as being selected in the playing eleven goes.

The New Zealand tour could have been a valuable experience for them ahead of the World Cup. But it seems that foresight was expended on Ebadat's inclusion.

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